This is funny.  Not funny “ha ha” but funny in an “our war propagandists say the darndest things” kind of way.

Just how often has the U.S. and NATO killed the Taliban in groups of 30 during 2009? The answer may surprise you:


But the much more important point remains: how could we possibly have any idea how the war is going, here or anywhere else, when the bad guys seem only to die in groups of 30? The sheer ubiquity of that number in fatality and casualty counts is astounding, to the point where I don’t even pay attention to a story anymore when they use that magic number 30. It is an indicator either of ignorance or deliberate spin… but no matter the case, whenever you see the number 30 used in reference to the Taliban, you should probably close the tab and move onto something else, because you just won’t get a good sense of what happened there.

Toot fans might recall another interesting run-in with the number 30 and the topic of airstrikes.  30, it appears, is the new black:

In a grisly calculus known as the “collateral damage estimate,” U.S. military commanders and lawyers often work together in advance of a military strike, using very specific, Pentagon-imposed protocols to determine whether the good that will come of it outweighs the cost.

We don’t know much about how it works, but in 2007, Marc Garlasco, the Pentagon’s former chief of high-value targeting, offered a glimpse when he told Salon magazine that in 2003, “the magic number was 30.” That meant that if an attack was anticipated to kill more than 30 civilians, it needed the explicit approval of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld or President George W. Bush. If the expected civilian death toll was less than 30, the strike could be OKd by the legal and military commanders on the ground.

My guess, and it’s nothing more than uninformed conjecture, is that there is probably some other test in terms of ratio of Taliban to civilians, such that 30/30 keeps the trigger pullers from any unnecessary paperwork.  Which is a total drag, and a costly distraction from the morally uplifting and vital task of liberating the Afghan people, 30 at a time.

See, also.